Mere Humanity: An Ecumenical Anthropology for Human Flourishing

Jun 10, 2024 by

By Jordan J. Ballor, Public Discourse:

Human flourishing does not require escaping the cares and travails of this world, but rather, it imbues them with significance in the light of the Eternal One, in whom we live and move and have our being.

“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” —John 10:10

“Men have forgotten God,” the Russian novelist Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn famously observed. “That’s why all this has happened.” Solzhenitsyn was speaking of the devastation of the twentieth century, the world wars, the genocides, the development of military technologies capable of destroying life in novel and previously unimaginable ways. Without God, the human person becomes enslaved to worldly ideologies of materialism, consumerism, collectivism, and individualism. Men have forgotten God, and in so doing, they have also forgotten themselves.

For his part, Solzhenitsyn called for “a common front against atheism” from Christian churches. “Yet even for such a purpose the steps taken are much too slow.” Alas, we have not progressed far enough in this kind of ecumenical endeavor over the ensuing forty years. But it is now indisputable that we must recover a proper understanding of humanity, and this requires reckoning with God and his revelation concerning creation. We must hold to a correct view of the human person if we are to pursue true flourishing. For Christians, at least, this means recovering the fundamental truths about humanity and our relation to God as communicated in Scripture and church history. Only this kind of recovery can serve as a corrective to the atheistic ideologies that pervade our world today. “All attempts to find a way out of the plight of today’s world are fruitless,” warned Solzhenitsyn, “unless we redirect our consciousness, in repentance, to the Creator of all: without this, no exit will be illumined, and we shall seek it in vain.”

What Is Man?

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